Our research shows that evolved biases for agency detection and mentalizing play only a marginal role in the acquisition of supernatural beliefs. Cultural learning seems to be way more important in fostering and transmitting these beliefs.
Supernatural beliefs & Agency Detection
Following evolutionary accounts of religion, the aim of this research line is to pursue the cognitive precursors of supernatural beliefs. Based on the notion that agency-detection biases could be at the basis of religious thought and behavior, we aim to elucidate the relation between perceptual and cognitive biases and belief in supernatural agents.
To this end we combine experimental manipulations (e.g. priming, contextual manipulations, suggestibility, Virtual Reality) with well-established psychophysical measures of agency detection. Given the importance of prior beliefs on agency detection, taking into account individual differences in religion and spirituality is central to this approach (e.g. studying religious populations).